European Council and European Commission Presidents, Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen made joint press conference in the aftermath of the sixth Eastern Partnership Summit late on December 15, focusing on situation in Belarus and Ukraine, as well as reforms, investments and connectivity.
The Summit was held on December 15 in Brussels, attended by the leaders of Eastern Partnership countries — Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, EU representatives, as well as heads of state and government of EU member states.
Remarks by Charles Michel
President Charles Michel said the Eastern Partnership is based on the values of rule of law, governance, fundamental rights and democratic principles. “These values are the basis of the EU’s ambition to engage with the Eastern Partnership countries.”
The European Council President said “the European Union’s commitment is directly linked to the reform efforts and ambitious implementation of the commitments that are honored by our partners.”
President Michel said the reforms are essential to turn the partnership towards the future so that it responds to the expectations of citizens in terms of employment, growth and social cohesion.
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The European Council President also touched upon the security and prosperity, noting that the two goes hand in hand.
“We have had the opportunity to reaffirm our support for Ukraine, its territorial integrity and its sovereignty. If there is to be military aggression against Ukraine, there would be a strong response, a heavy price to be paid by those who would be the authors of this aggression,” he underlined.
President Michel also spoke of symbolic empty seat for Belarus during the meeting. “This empty seat does not mean the withdrawal of the European commitment for the people of Belarus.”
“This summit gave a new impetus with an ambitious declaration that shows the European commitment aiming to ensure that our ambitions for prosperity and security are translated into action,” Charles Michel concluded.
European Commission President’s Remarks
“Today, we have launched a new, more ambitious phase in our Eastern Partnership; a new agenda to help us in our joint work on recovery and reform, underpinned by significant investment,” said Ursula von der Leyen, who took the floor after President Michel.
She said through EUR 300 billion Global Gateway initiative, the Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership region could obtain EUR 17 billion of investments.
“There are very interesting, impressive projects in the pipeline, for example making buildings in Moldova more energy-efficient, or to expanding high-speed internet to rural Georgia, or to rolling out fibre optic cable under the Black sea,” von der Leyen maintained.
“So, we invited our Eastern partners to get on board and to work with us on building new links in the shared region,” she added.
President Ursula von der Leyen also noted that the EU assured Ukraine of steadfast support and commitment to its sovereignty and to its territorial integrity. “There should indeed be no doubt: the European Union will respond firmly to any further aggression against Ukraine.”
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